March 2020
On the Bit
In This Issue

Barn News & Updates
Dressage Training Video:
Shoulder-In: A Fundamental Movement in Dressage
Dressage Training:
One Simple Way to Quiet Your Hands
Horse Care Tip of the Month:
Tips to Build Your Horse's Topline
Life & Style:
8 Spring Decorating Trends to Make Your Interiors Bloom
Recipe of the Month:
Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
Paula's Pearls:
"Ah-Ha!" Moments in Riding
A Little Inspiration:
The Most Beautiful Three Minutes You'll Spend Today
About Paula Paglia Dressage
Barn News & Updates
CARA Show in February
We had fun showing this weekend at the Champagne Show at Horseman’s Park in Queen Creek. I started with this horse, In D'Aire (Indy), when he was a yearling when I showed him in hand for the Belgian Warmblood inspection. He scored very high, being the international highest scoring yearling colt. Kate and Dave Earl bred him owning both beautiful parents. I was lucky enough to get Indy back two years ago. We showed to Regional Champion in third and fourth level in 2018. In 2019, we won the fourth level regional freestyle and the CDS fourth level freestyle and placed 4th in a very large class in Sacramento, California as well as Region 7 Championship in PSG. We have been schooling pretty hard since September and decided to try I-1. So proud of my ride scoring a 69.8 ❤️  Thank you Kate and Dave Earl for your support!
Dressage Training Video
Shoulder-In: A Fundamental Movement in Dressage

Dressage Training
One Simple Way to Quiet Your Hands

Quiet Hands
You might already know that when something is "simple" in horse riding, it isn't necessarily easy! Quieting your hands falls into this category.

What is this simple way? Well, stop using your hands!

It's pretty simple to not use your hands, but it might not be so easy to increase the use of your other aids in lieu of the hands.

If you're anything like me, and you developed the habit of controlling pretty much everything from the horse's mouth long ago, then you know how difficult it can be to reduce your reliance on your hands.

However, I'm here to tell you that it can be done. It is possible to go to your other aids and save your hands for only two things: the end of the half-halt (in order to help with re-balancing the horse) and straightness/flexion.

The hands do play a role in the half-halt. I've explained it in detail along with the other aids here and more of a basic description here.

They also can maintain the horse's straightness, especially in the shoulders, especially when you are on a bend or turn. They also can help with maintaining the flexion of the jaw (usually in the direction you are going).

Other than that...the hands should and can sing poetry in the horse's mouth and help him develop confidence and strength within his own movement. 

The rest of the body can take over much of the in-movement communication with the horse. And this is where the difficulty comes in for some of us. It takes a quite a lot more coordination and core strength to aid your horse through your seat, legs and body. But with practice and guidance, it can be done. Only then can your horse lighten on his feet and carry you with more comfort and strength. And for the rider, there is a sense of freedom that comes along with the reduced reliance on the hands.

4 Aids to Use in Lieu of the Hands

The Seat
The rider's seat is the root of all good in horseback riding. Not only does the seat keep your balance and allow you to move in harmony with your horse, but it also sends an almost unlimited amount of communication to your horse. Because, you see, the seat is the largest area of contact with your horse, and it sits (pun!) literally in the middle of the horse. From there, you have such an opportunity to send almost invisible signals to your horse. And he will likely respond easily just by virtue of the fact that it is easier for him to move from the middle of his body than the front.

The Weight
The use of weight is an off-shoot of the use of the seat and they work together in tandem. You could ride with a balanced seat that isn't indicating anything in terms of weight, or you can use your weight to your advantage. Let's imagine a turn - if you can weigh your inside seat bone into the turn, you will invariably help your horse turn easier and with better balance. How about a leg yield? Use your weight aid to invite your horse into the direction of the movement.

The Legs
The legs are critical for clear communication. The inside leg works on bend and keeping the inside shoulder moving straight. The outside leg is responsible for asking the hind end to stay in line with the front end (and not swing out, for example). It also is the main initiator of bends, shoulder-ins/haunches ins, canter departures and turns. You can also "step into the stirrups" to support your seat aids, or to create a stronger leg if the horse is moving into it. The more educated you and your horse get, the more meaning you can offer through your leg aids.

The Voice
Especially at the beginning, either for a novice rider or horse, the voice can be a welcome reinforcement of the body aids. If the horse is young or relatively untrained, voice cues might not initially carry much meaning, but they can serve to calm the horse or conversely, add a little "spice" into the horse's movement (if you need increased energy). Voice cues can be words or sounds, depending on how you want to develop them. You do not have to be loud to be effective. Use consistent voice cues and your horse will in fact be able to understand and predict what you want.

Well, there you have it! Riding with less emphasis on the hands is possible and highly recommended, not only for your pleasure, but for your horse's comfort as well. Although it might take more time than you might initially want to invest, developing your other aids to the point of clarity is well worth the effort.
Horse Care Tip of the Month
Tips to Build Your Horse's Topline

Source: | By: Christa Leste-Lasserre, MA
Six ways to transform your horse’s topline from underdeveloped to well-toned
Good topline
A horse's neck should transition smoothly into the shoulders, with no angular gaps around the withers. The spine should be surrounded by toned muscles along its length down into the croup.
Poor topline
Be it from pain, age, or nutrition, horses can lose their topline musculature causing the vertebral column, withers, and croup to protrude.
Bettina had a good topline. Her neck and back musculature was even, with no fat lumps. Her neck transitioned smoothly into her shoulders, with no abrupt or angular gaps alongside her withers. Her spine was surrounded by a nice continuum of toned muscles along its length down into the croup.

Then, life happened. I bred my 1,500-pound, 17-hand Warmblood mare, and she had a foal. Then another. Then I loaned her out to a couple of young riders who started her back under saddle doing dressage, jumping, and cross-country. And little by little the problems started. While she took home ribbons at shows, she became grumpy, pinning her ears when she saw riders approaching her stall, snapping while getting girthed up. Eventually she showed subtle signs of lameness, leading to her retirement.

Bettina arrived home fit, strong, lame, and with a prominent ridge spanning from withers to rump. Her vertebral column peaked above everything around it. The top of her croup protruded, and she had gaps beside her withers. At 13 years old Bettina wasn’t starved, wasn’t neglected, and wasn’t unfit. But she, like many other working horses, had a severely undeveloped topline. Her history of foaling, poor saddle fit, possibly inappropriate nutrition, and lameness all ­contributed.

With proper attention to her needs and a lot of patience, though, I’m seeing Bettina’s lovely look start to come back again. These six steps can help others in the same boat achieve a topline ­transformation.

Step 1: Ask Why
Horses are genetically programmed to have good toplines. Unless they have an underlying medical issue affecting muscle development or aren’t getting proper nutrition, they’ll develop a nice, smooth topline from neck to tail naturally, says Nicole Rombach, APM, MEEBW, CCBW, PG AM, MSc, PhD, president of Equinenergy/Caninenergy Ltd and chair of the International Equine Body Worker Association for the U.K. and Europe.

Except in malnutrition cases, the main problem horses lacking a topline likely have is a history of poor posture. “It’s the past events that shape the posture of the horse,” Rombach says.

Like humans, horses need good posture when standing and moving to stave off back and neck pain, with their abdominal tunic (which covers the oblique muscles and supports the abdomen) working to help support the back. “If the core stability isn’t there, the back and neck take over to manage that stability, and that’s where things can become painful,” she says.

But before you can build that topline, you first have to figure out why it disappeared in the first place.

Look at the horse’s musculoskeletal history. “Topline issues can develop when some horses are ridden too young, when they’re too weak to carry the rider, because of bad saddle fit, or back or neck problems,” she says.

Lameness is another common culprit. “Lameness and neck/back problems are fairly synonymous,” Rombach says. “They’re not mutually exclusive.”

Horses can also lose their toplines while on stall rest after an injury. This limited movement is “equivalent to bed rest for a human,” Rombach says. That’s also true for sport horses that spend most of their time in stalls. “That muscle mass just gets wasted,” she says. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Foaling, as in Bettina’s case, and colic surgery can also weaken the abdominal muscles. Underlying health conditions can also be to blame, says Clair Thunes, PhD, independent equine nutrition consultant and owner of Summit Equine Nutrition LLC, based in Sacramento, California. Horses with muscle-related diseases such as polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) can have great difficulty building topline, as can older horses that don’t build muscle mass well. And horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (equine Cushing’s disease) have difficulty metabolizing and using muscle-building proteins as they should.

Step 2: Fix Underlying Issues
Resolving the primary issue behind topline loss allows the horse’s brain to “reset.” Topline muscles don’t strengthen from sweaty workouts but through ­building core muscles—posture training, essentially. For that to happen, handlers need to train the horse’s mind to know what to do with those muscles, as well as the opposing ones along the abdomen.

“It’s all about synergy between abdominal and deeper core muscles,” Rombach says. “They have to function synergistically with the back, with core dynamic stability. That requires motor control in... click here for the rest of the article.
Life & Style
8 Spring Decorating Trends to Make Your Interiors Bloom

Seasons are a splendid excuse for revamping, sprucing, and enhancing your interior design. Winter is turning a corner, so inviting new pieces and experimenting with fresh colors and lines is the thing to do.

We asked for expert advice from our team of professional Decorilla interior designers and with buzzing anticipation, here are several spring decorating ideas that will make your space pop, blossom, and bloom.
1. Raw wood essentials

Wood is an essential material in creating comfort, warmth and organic beauty to a space. By keeping it raw, the tones, grooves and imperfections act as a work of art. Found in the form of a side table, wall art, or even spanning across the ceiling, this is definitely nature’s spring decorating idea.
2. Pastel and bright accents

Pantone never fails at offering key interior design help by announcing the color of the year. Their recent unique combo of Rose Quartz and Serenity is no exception. Both gentle and airy, these hues offer an environment the tranquility so greatly desired in our fast paced, hectic lives. Whether as accent pillows, wall color or in rose gold metallics, these pastels add a softness that come with spring time.
3. Mindful sprucing

As the first season of the year, Spring inspires reflecting and goal making. Dive into some serious spring cleaning by purging of unnecessary books and knick-knacks. Decorilla designer, Ivonne T., suggests upcycling as a perfect spring decorating idea. Give an out dated console table new life with a fresh coat of paint.
4. Neutrals with pop

If pastels aren’t your thing, this spring decorating idea is one that’s tried and true. Neutrals do the trick of both opening a space and creating a canvas for accentuated pieces of decor. Color pop can be bold and vitalizing or subtle and moving. Either way, infusing a space with fun pillows, a dramatic abstract painting, or a single saturated accent chair can add new life to your interior design. Click here for the rest of the article.
Recipe of the Month
Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
"Perhaps you're looking for a special dessert to welcome in spring, or you are simply craving a decadent treat. May I recommend this lemon cake? It's divine." Paula

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese (see recipe below for homemade ricotta)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and bake in greased pan at 350 for about 50 minutes.

Homemade Ricotta

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice from 3 lemons

In a large pot, place milk, cream, salt, lemon juice. Stir once. Place on medium heat for 30 minutes or when it appears to be erupting. Take off of heat, cover the pot, and let rest for 1 hour. Take a fine strainer and place on the pot and scoop out the ricotta cheese. Enjoy!
Paula's Pearls
"Ah-ha!" Moments in Riding

Did you know it is important not to work horses on an empty stomach? If horses have an empty stomach during work, all the acids produced in the stomach are free to splash up onto the non-glandular region of the stomach and cause ulcers. So next time you go to saddle up your horse... let them eat some hay while you brush and tack up.
A Little Inspiration
You don't have to be horse crazy to love, love, love this heartwarming story of this gentle stallion that brings calm, comfort, and peace to hospice patients in their last days. Just beautiful!
About Paula Paglia
Paula Paglia
Paula Paglia, owner and head trainer of Paula Paglia Dressage in North Scottsdale, Arizona began her professional training career in 1979. Paula is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist and has been named ADA Rider of the Year numerous times through 2018. Paula has been an integral part of the training and success of her clients. She is credited with creating numerous winning horse and rider combinations through the FEI levels. She has developed Regional Winners and sent many students to the National Junior Young Riders Championships, the North American Young Riders Championships and the National Dressage Seat Equitation Finals.

Formerly the head trainer at Dynamite Dressage, and the head trainer at Los Cedros, she is thrilled to now offer her own niche to her clients: a full educational program based on dressage, developing amateurs, young riders and other professionals to their fullest potential. As owner of Paula Paglia Dressage, she has taken the best of training practices used throughout her career to offer a specialized experience for her clients. She considers her facility to be "heaven for horses." Owning her own facility allows her to cater to every horse's special needs.

Paula has trained with some of the most successful trainers and riders in the world, including Debbie McDonald, Leslie Reid, Christine Traurig, and Conrad Schumacher.

In 1992, Paula began importing warmbloods from Holland, Poland and Germany. Presently, Paula conducts personalized buying trips abroad for her clients, as she has extensive experience selecting and starting young horses and developing them up the levels.

The Paula Paglia Dressage philosophy is to develop a partnership between horse and rider. The well-being of the horse is the primary consideration. Paula evaluates each horse and rider individually and will design a program appropriate to their ability, yet focused on the long-term goals of upper-level classical dressage. Each horse and rider is developed at their own pace, allowing each team to be mentally and physically strong at each level of competition.

Paula believes that a successful training regimen is a logical, step-by-step process that utilized the horse's natural intelligence, his loyalty, his goodwill, and his honesty. A sensible, kind and structured training program will produce a horse with a strong muscle structure and a sharp working mind. Both are necessary to compete at the national and international levels of dressage. 
Paula Paglia Dressage
Services & Facility
  • Boarding/Training
  • Lessons
  • Showing
  • Purchase/Sale
  • Clinics
  • International Equine Procurement 

  • Regulation arena with premium footing
  • Oversized stalls, cleaned multiple times daily with premium shavings
  • Fly misting system and cooling misting system 
  • Two all-weather turnouts
  • Premium hay feed 5x a day
  • Personalized grain/supplement feedings 2-3x a day
  • Automatic waterers/outside tubs and interior buckets cleaned daily
  • Hot water wash racks
  • Locked tack rooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Blanketing/final night check
  • Caveletti course
  • Access to Equine Corridor trails
  • Regularly scheduled on-site clinics
  • Trailering to shows available